What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition resulting in painful joints. It is very common in older pets, especially older, Larger breed animals – Labradors, GSDs, Boxers, Boerboels etc. Arthritis is a bony change in the joint causing abnormal movement in the joint which can be very painful.
Arthritis may be a result of an old injury to a joint or develop from the “wear and tear” of the joint. It generally worsens over time slowly. It usually starts with the occasional sore/stiff day and changes in the weather and strenuous exercise tend to lead and exaggerate sore days.

What Joints are affected?

Most commonly hips and spines are affected by arthritis, but elbows, shoulders, knees and any other joint can be affected.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Lameness
  • Stiff
  • Battling to get up after lying down
  • Reluctance to walk/climb stairs

Sometimes it is difficult to notice the start of arthritis as animals often don’t cry until they are in extreme pain.

How do we Diagnose Arthritis?

X-rays are the most effective way of Diagnosing arthritis. Other diseases as Disc disease, Nerve damage and Tendon/Ligament damage need to be ruled out.

Can Arthritis be cured?

Unfortunately there is no cure for arthritis, the best we can do for our pets is to manage the condition and keep them as comfortable as possible.
There are 3 different aspects:

  • Medication
  • Diet
  • Exercise

Remember, big soft beds are more comfortable to lie on for old joints.


Pain medication is reactive strategies for the treatment of arthritis. Animals do not tolerate human medications. These often cause a host of other problems such as stomach ulcers and kidney damage. The best thing is to go to your vet and get a registered pain medication for animals. There are also drugs that enhance the joint fluid allowing the joint to move more freely.


Despite what you may think, exercise is necessary. It is very important to keep the joints working. Over exercise will make them feel worse, but swimming for SHORT periods of time is the best low-impact non-weight bearing exercise.


There is no specific diet for arthritis but it is very important that your pet is NOT overweight. Excessive weight puts more unnecessary strain the joints.